Looks Like A Bush: Jeb! Is In
The Republican “autopsy” after the 2012 election suggested Mitt Romney’s line about self-deportation was his downfall. It was recommended that the GOP promote more Hispanic immigration as well as the standard pro-business agenda. Additionally, Romney’s background, demeanor and secretly taped comment about the 47% signaled to America’s working and middle class that a President Romney would do nothing to improve their condition.
Acknowledging the fervor and rancor of the conservative base on these contentious issues, Jeb Bush said at the outset of his run for President that he’d be willing to lose the primary to win the general. While conventional political wisdom says to secure the base and expand your coalition from there, I think he can win the primary without the base. Open primaries allow Democrats and Republicans to vote in primary elections, and per usual, many other candidates are diluting the conservative vote. That’s what Jeb’s counting on.
It’s clear Jeb has interpreted the results of 2012 to indicate that social conservatives are an obstacle in the nomination contest and a liability in the general election. Strong opposition to Jeb’s positions on immigration and education standards will have to be overcome. He starts his campaign on defense with the right, not offense. The question for Jeb is whether it’s a major conceptual problem within the GOP to see the base as a political burden.
Immigration and Common Core
Jeb’s positions on Common Core and immigration are not a reaction to the Obama presidency. In 2000, the conservative base was not nearly as hostile to Latinos as they were deranged by Clinton’s success. W ran as a “conservative” but had a similar immigration philosophy to Jeb’s, only less personal (Jeb’s wife is Latino). Both Bushes have promoted school standards and state leadership in education, but W nationalized education further by No Child Left Behind, and he tried to force the right into an immigration compromise.
Now 10 years later, although everyone hates the status quo, the conservative base distrusts any immigration reform. Worse, Jeb’s governor led educational standards movement has been nationalized by President Obama making it anathema to the conservative base. Both issues have left Jeb having to react to the base on issues that W did not have to deal with prior to his 2000 election. I still think he wins the nomination though as he is a fundraising dynamo.